July 6, 2020 1:50 pm

For thousands of years humans have been experimenting and developing new ways to treat the sick. When looking back, we may view some of the earliest treatments as silly or even crazy, but it was that drive to invent and develop ways to heal people that brought us the incredible advancements in the medical field that we are lucky enough to have today.

Vaccines

Immunization can be traced back centuries to monks who drank snake venom to become immune to snake bites. Seventeenth Century Chinese medicine also practiced immunization by variolation (using material from a patient in an attempt to immunize an individual) to help stop the spread of Smallpox. An example of past methods – that may make your stomach turn – would be the consumption of a scab from an already infected individual. Inventor Edward Jenner also developed a method to protect against Smallpox in 1796. It wasn’t until the 1940s when scientists developed large-scale vaccination to minimize the spread of diseases including Smallpox and Tetanus.

The early 20th Century brought a new world of vaccinations for various diseases including Smallpox, Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis. One of the most major accomplishments was the invention of the Polio vaccine, which became available in the late 1950s. This was a major development in the United States considering the fact that between 13,000-20,000 people were infected yearly with Polio before the vaccine.  Today, there are a variety of vaccines recommended that improve the way we live, including: Measles, Mumps, Influenza, HPV, and more.

X-Ray Imaging

X-rays were first discovered  in 1895 by German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. The scientist accidentally made the discovery when working with cathode rays and noticing how they passed through glass. X-rays are similar to light rays but are much shorter. This allows them to go through human flesh without penetrating objects high in density like bones. This discovery became an important tool for medical diagnosing.

Today, x-rays are still widely used to diagnose things from broken bones to pneumonia. Although x-rays can be incredibly helpful, they can also result in exposure to radiation. Fortunately, scientists now utilize them in a safer, more responsible way in order to prevent any harmful effects caused by x-rays.  

Medical Thermometer

The use of personal medical thermometers is common in many households, but it wasn’t always easy to take your own temperature. For centuries, scientists worked on developing ways to measure temperature. From thermoscopes to mercury thermometers to the Kelvin Scale, scientists were attempting to find new ways to effectively and accurately measure temperature.

In 1612, Santorio Santorio invented the mouth thermometer which led to doctors taking their patients temperatures routinely. This allowed for the discovery of temperature being correlated to the progression of illness. It wasn’t until 1867 that the first practical medical thermometer was invented by Sir Thomas Allbutt. Now, there are numerous ways to take your temperature including the forehead thermometer, which allows for the detection of a fever in a hygienic way. This has been incredibly beneficial during the outbreak of Covid-19 and allows healthcare professionals to safely check temperatures without spreading the virus.   

Prosthetics

Early prosthetics can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt when artificial toes were used to provide balance and stability when walking. Eventually, hinges were added to artificial limbs in the late 1400s, but it wasn’t until the American Civil War when the demand of prosthetics began to rise. Over centuries, inventors designed artificial limbs to be realistic, mobile, and comfortable.

Prosthetics have come a long way since their invention. They allow more mobility and comfort than ever. This gives people the ability to not just get around in their daily lives, but even compete in marathons and other sporting events. Scientists have recently developed a way for prosthetics to function in a way that allows people to feel again. These incredible advances in technology have given people the abilities to use prosthetics in amazing ways. 

There are still many advancements to make in the medical field. Scientists, engineers, and inventors are constantly working towards making the world a healthier, safer place for everyone. Whether it’s a simple tool that makes life a bit more comfortable for the sick or a life-saving device, we are thankful for the inventions in medicine that have made a difference in our lives.

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